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Language and Body in Augustan Poetic Author(s): Thomas E. Maresca Reviewed work(s): Source: ELH, Vol. 37, No.

3 (Sep., 1970), pp. 374-388 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 30/03/2012 05:31
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WhenSwift's swollen withtheir divinewinds, deliver Aeolists, the Giftof BELCHING, theiropinions by eructation and " affirm to be the noblestAct of a Rational Creature,"'theiropinion, however inAugustan Swiftian and extreme, hasmany counterparts satire. They stand, chronologically and ideologically, midway between theswollen, flatulent, and averbalShadwell ofDryden's MacFlecknoeand the stultifying yawnof Dulness,whose" un" (IV. 654) concludes creating word The Dunciad. Among these works and thoseof other extends majorAugustan a netwriters workof ideas that ties together languageand body,wordand withknotsofpeculiar thing, complexity. The paperthatfollows is an attempt to loosensomeofthoseknots. In MacFlecknoe, ofhis Dryden concentrates themainelements attackon Shadwell in thewell-known linesofFlecknoe's opening in the courseof whichthe aged princereviews soliloquy, all of the characteristics that qualify of nonShadwellforthe empire sense: Shadwell is meaningless, verbose, tautological, in essence exactlylike his putativefather Flecknoe. As Flecknoehimself says," Sh alone my perfect imagebears" (15) .2 We have long knownthat Dryden satirizesFlecknoeand Shadwellby to them attributing three offices which theygrossly distort, those ofprophet, and king. Not coincidentally, priest, orthodox Chrisattributes thoseoffices tianity to Christ.Drydenin traditionally MacFlecknoeconsistently appropriates for his satiricpurposes ideasdrawn from Christic theology, particularly from thetheology of theLogos. The Logos,the secondpersonof the Trinity, also bearsthe " perfect image' of his father.The situation in Macmostresembles theFather'sannouncement Flecknoee ofthekingshipofhis Son in Book V ofParadiseLost,but it also and more
1A Tale of a Tub, ed. HerbertDavis (Oxford, 1957), Sect. VIII, p. 96. All quotationsfrom A Tale are to thisedition. 2 quotationsfromDryden are from The Poems of John Dryden, ed. James Kinsley (Oxford, 1958).


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importantly draws uponthesamesortofconceptions thatMilton in Book III, thedialogue utilized in Heaven between the Father and the Son about the fateof man. Therethe secondpersonis elaborately presented in his capacityas the Logos, the perfect expression oftheFather, andthedialogue between thetwodramatizesexplicitly theimplicit them.The relabetween relationship tionship is,inhuman WhattheFather tautological. terms, speaks, theSon embodies and repeats.In Milton's in theSon " all words, his Fathershone /Substantially express'd" (III. 139-140) .3 To make the relationship even moreclear,Milton builds Christ's speechout ofalmost deviceofrepetition known to Renaisevery sancerhetoric-for example: For should Man finally be lost,should Man Thycreature lateso lov'd, thyyoungest Son Fall circumvented thus byfraud, though join'd With hisownfolly? thatbe from theefar, Thatfar be from thee, whoartjudge Father, Ofall things made, andjudgest only right. OrshalltheAdversary thusobtain His end,and frustrate shallhe fulfill thine, His malice, andthy goodness bring to naught...? (III. 150-58) The whole is formed dialogue from just suchdramatization ofthe basic theological and I suggestthat Dryden in relationship, MacFlecknoe draws uponthissamerelationship. A fewlinesfurtheron,Drydenmakesthisexplicit whenhe has Flecknoerefer to Shadwellas a Christicanti-type of his 'Old Testament' precursors: HeywoodandShirley were butTypes ofthee, Thoulastgreat ofTautology.... Prophet (929-30) The fundamental pointof thisrestson the role of the Logos in creation.God creates by and through theWord;theWordis the agentand modelof creation.What Flecknoeand Shadwell produce amounts to a travesty of thisdivinecreativity. God is hisessence tautological: and existence are identical. He expresses himself in tautologies: in the Logos, who mirrors him; in his to Moses," I am thatI am"; in his creation declaration of man in hisownimage.But Godis tautological becausethere is nothing
3All quotationsfromMilton are fromJohnMilton: CompletePoems and Major Y. Hughes (New York, 1957). Prose,ed. Merritt

ThomasE. Maresca


all being outsidehimself to which he encompasses he can refer; and provides its ground out ofthisfulland source.God creates nessofbeing; Flecknoe and Shadwell createout of their vacuity. Thereis no distinction between themand their just as creations, therecan be no distinction themas persons.Here, of between course, liesthetotaldifference between their and God's: creativity his creation is reallydistinct from him,just as the Son is really distinct from theFather.The divine in infinite results tautology variety, the humanone in mererepetition. God unitesthreein one,but Flecknoeand Shadwell merely repeatone in two (thus namein thepoem-MacFlecknoe). Shadwell's The Logosbridges thegap between human and divine, between material andspiritual; Flecknoe and Shadwell reverse thatprocess and use the wordto divide,to subtract soul from body. Their aremarked creations notbylifebutby corporeality. Sheer physical bulkis their distinguishing characteristic: Flecknoe callsShadwell" A Tun ofMan ' (195); "his goodly Fabrickfills theeye" (25); "loads of ShA-.- almost choakt the way (103). Appropriately, Drydendepictsthis by means of an essentially and ubiquitous blighted sexuality Shadwell's throne is scatology. erected on thesceneof" Lewd loves,and ofpolluted joys" (71); he earlypracticed the lore of Love's Kingdom (124); Psyche from hisloins (1925) sprung source -surely an unlikely for Psyche. Flecknoe offers to teachhim" Pangs without birth, and fruitless Industry" (148), a lessonhe seemsnot to need,sincehe begins the poem"big withHymn (41) and endsit stillflatulent and a "mountain swollen, a " tympany belly with ofsense" (193-94) the longestfalsepregnancy certainly in literature. Dryden's " Shy-," frequently consistent use of the abbreviation dethemeter, a monosyllabic mands, despite and scatological reading. " Pissing-Ally " (47) it I doubtthat whenthe echoescall from " they is " Shadwell are saying-especially a fewlineslater, since, Shadwell's song is said to attractthe littlefishes as does " the " Morning Toast, that Floats along (50). At any rate, all of the natureof Flecknoe'sand Shadwell'sart. Comthis defines it represents pletely theoverflow material, oflifeand energy only in themostgrossly parodic sense;it is formed from theremnants ofliferather thanfrom lifeitself. Drydenforces us to see Shadwellas a travesty of Christ, a reductio ad absurdum ofthe divinetautology. The satiremakes his modeof existence, Shadwell's flesh, exclusively verbal,while 376 Languageand Body in Augustan Poetic

" A Tun of Man in thy Large bulk is writ" (195), where the word once again mergesinto the flesh. In these images we are dealing with a parody,a debasement,of the centralmomentof Christian history.If the Incarnationof Christprovidesthe nexus of human and divine, of fleshand spirit,Shadwell's false pregnancyshatters that connection.What he producesis the complete reification, the total corporealization, of word and spirit. His flatulence parodies the idea of the Word withinthe word, and his verbal and physicalconstipation forthe durationof the poem (Shadwell never speaks in MacFleckno'e) quite literallyembody the total sterility and self-enclosure of his works. All ofthiselaboratetheological paraphernalia providesthe basis forthe poem's mode of procedure:the playingwiththe theology of the Logos subvertsthe framework of realityand bringsinto being an exclusivelyverbal world-but a verbal world that is paradoxically trappedin matter. If God, in creatingthrough the Word,made a materialworldcapable of risingto spirit, Shadwell the degradation through ofthe wordcreatesan immaterial, verbal world which is quickly sinkinginto matter. In an ambivalent sense,this worldpossessesno realityoutsidethe printedpage. It existsas literature existsand drawsits sustenance from-and only from-literature; this explainsthe superabundant allusionswhich punctuatethe poem. On the otherhand, literature existsin this worldas onlythe physicalrealityof the printedpage-" loads of Sioalmost choakt the way" (103). Such a world closes upon itself. It cannothave reference to any realityoutside itself and so must be tautological. Ultimatelyin such a worldthe artifact achievesthe same level of existenceas the artist-or vice versa-and the artistpays the price forhis own hackwork, as does the " yet declaimingBard" (9213) at the end of MacFlecknoe. His inabilityto make clear in the realm of art produces,in the realm of being, distinctions a worldwhichis all Love's Kingdom,populated only by Humorists, Hypocrites,and Virtuosos. Sloppy art, Dryden is arguing, Thomas E. Maresca 377

at the same time demonstrating how he converts all wordsto flesh, reduces them to inert matter. Shadwell, tautological inevery respect, becomes the vehicle forhis own veryliteralincarnation of the word: he is " Swell'd withthe Pride of [his] Celestial "; he bearsthe wordwithin charge him,"big withHymn." The obverseof this confusion of literature and reality, spiritand matter, can be seen in Flecknoe's laterdescription of Shadwell,

a confusion effects inreality; ourartembodies or,putanother way, thereality we live in,therefore confusion in art and confusion in of each other. This relation realityare necessary corollaries between the relationship art and reality is essentially of thefirst twoversions ofthe andsecond oftheTrinity, persons tautological, same thing.Thus the incoherence of Flecknoe'sand Shadwell's mindsis the incoherence of the worldtheycreatearoundthem, and theythemselves areno more orlessrealthantheir characters Bruceor Longvil. in Absalom Elements are discernible ofthissamesituation and where bodiesas debasing Achitophel, Drydenemploys metaphors in a quite similar way. He describes all of the poem's villains as markedly corporealand leaves the poem's heroesvaguely ethereal andspiritual. villains exist in ourimaginations Absalom's primarily as physicalentities-"that unfeather'd, two Leg'd thing,"Achitophel's who "o'r son (170); Achitophel himself, inform'd Tenement ofClay" (158); Corahwith his" Moses's [his] Face " (649); and even " The wellhungBalaam" (574). Corporealimagery marks all therebelsand their activities, dragging themdown from the realmof spirittheywould usurpto the world ofmatter. Imagesofeating andoffoodabound inthepoem, in semi-blasphemous frequently contexts.Jewishrabbis and Jebusites agreethat it is theirduty "Tespouse his Cause by " (107). The plot itself whomtheyeat and drink is " swallow'd in the Mass, unchew'd and Crude" (113). Nadab "made new forthePaschalLamb" (576). The final porridge transformation of thisimagery and its ideological climaxin the poem occurin David's concluding speech. The processof corporealization to whichthe rebelshave all been subjected therereachesits nadir in a symbolic cannibalism: Against themselves their Witnesses willSwear, TillViper-like their Mother Plotthey tear: Andsuckfor Nutriment thatbloody gore Which wastheir Principle ofLifebefore. (1012-15) These striking corporeal imagesall achievea common effect in the poem: theyconstitute a symbolic enactment, in the moral realm,of the public rebellion and its concomitant withdrawal from grace.Theydebasetheimageofhismaker thatDavid bears thatimagein theindividual by reducing and in society to a mere physical effigy, a thingto be torn,used, consumed.They are, 378 Languageand Body in Augustan Poetic

ifyou will,simply other versions ofthe goldencalfto which the rebelswouldreduceDavid (66). In theIncarnation, Christ theWordin therealm domesticated of flesh.Dryden'sFlecknoeand Shadwellreversed that action by themselves becoming onlywords-not symbols, onlywords. to nothing They have reference outsidethemselves: they are completely self-referential and tautological. The bodyin thisview is not a symbol of a spiritual or intellectual is state but rather the spiritual or intellectual statebecausethattoo has beenthoroughly corporealized: the" shapeless Lump" (172), Achitophel's " " (171) and " Anarchy son,is bothhisfather's hudled " Notions (172). Opposed to theIncarnation oftheWordstands theliteralizationof the flesh.Swift's practice withLilliputians, Brobdingand Laputansobviously nagians, bearson this;his llouyhnhnms perfectly exemplify the total literalization and consequent dehumanization of an intellectual construct, animalrationale.The and Bentleys Platos,Virgils, oftheBattleoftheBooks Wottons, play out the same process and illustrate as nicelyas does Macthatin the process Flecknoe of making literature everything we makeeverything onlything-just books,physical objectsto be shelved,sorted,separated, etc. Swift'sbriefcomment on the evolution of zeal in A Tale of a Tub summarizes the whole process: However, forthisMeddly ofHumor, [Jack] madea Shift to find a veryplausible Name,honoring it withthe Titleof Zeal; which is, themost perhaps, significant Word thathathbeenever yetproduced in anyLanguage; I have fully As, I think, proved in myexcellent Analytical Discourse uponthatSubject; wherein I have deduced a
Histori-theo-physi-logiccd Accountof Zeal, shewing how it first pro-

ceeded a Notion from a Word, andfrom into ina hotSummer, thence into ripned a tangible Substance.(Sect.VI, p. 86) This,I think, is the central situation of Augustan poetic. The Incarnation a field, a pointofcontact provides between theintellectually conceived verbaland the sensually perceived physical: it offers, in effect, a guarantee of the validityof thought and and an assurance poetry ofthereality oftheextra-subjective universe. Consequently thebestpoetry is notjust a vision oftruth, " that Sidneyspokeof but is truth; it offers the " goldenworld and whichso muchof Neoplatonic esthetics justified. In good the verbal and the real coincideand truthmanifests poetry, itself.At the oppositeextreme, in the veryworstpoetry, there ThomasE. Maresca 379

is no correlation between the verbalworldand the real world. the malformed Rather, verbalconstruct mirrors the disexactly torted intellectual it and a strange vision thatengendered travesty of the Platonic vision of truthappears: such poetryis selfsupporting and internally consistent becauseit neverescapesthe distinct worldsof wordand thingto enterthe worldof spirit whichwouldcontradict it. It possessesin superabundance the excellence we presently praisein contemporary poetry, internal coherence, becauseit possesses of one consciousonlythereality ness. It implicitly rejectsanalogyas actuallyexisting and presents rathera totally subjectiveuniverse-thusShadwell is chosenbecausehe mostresembles Flecknoeand becausein turn his characters most resemble him. When languageis properly employed, art approximates nature;whenit is improperly emartproduces ployed, theartificial. Some satiric uses of the traditional of the mirror metaphor of art may help to clarify all of this. The essential pointof the commonplace use of the mirror metaphor is, of course, that art imitates reality, whether thatreality is conceived ofas a physical particular or a Platonic idea or anything betweenthose two extremes. In satiric uses ofthemetaphor, stress is laid uponthe natureof the reflection superficial involved:only surfaces are reproduced; the imitation is confined onlyto the material, the bodyalone. The following is from A Tale ofa Tub:
A certain Author, whoseWorkshave manyAges sincebeen,entirely lost,does in his fifth Book and eighth Chapter, say of Griticks, that
their Writings are the Mirrorsof Learning. This I understandin a literal Sense, and suppose our Author must mean, that whoever designsto be a perfect Writer, mustinspectinto the Books of Criticks, and correcthis Invention there as in a Mirror. Now, whoever considersthat the Mirrorsof the Antientswere made of Brass, and sine Mercurio,may presentlyapply the two Principal Qualifications of a True Modern Critick,and consequently,must needs conclude, that these have always been, and must be foreverthe same. For, Brass is an Emblem of Duration, and when it is skillfully burnished,will cast Reflections fromits own Superficies, without any assistance of Mercury frombehind. All the other Talents of a Critick will not require a particularmention,being included,or easily deducible to these. (Sect. III, p. 63)

Let us pass overthenarrator's interesting literalism and thepossible significationsof Mercury and brass to concentrate on the extremely corporeal version of artistic reflectionthat Swift here


Language and Body in Augu-stan Poetic

describes. The mirror itself is presented as a solid surface that resistspenetration; the imageis quite physically thrown back fromthis superficies. The conception and the language are thisis in factLucretius' Lucretian; of the behavior description of atomsin the formation of reflected images.4Such language and such a sourcefirmly lock the kind of reflection, criticism, and art Swift is talking about in an absolutely corporeal world, a world thatis exhaustively described as bodiesin motion; spirit is totallyabsent. Such criticism forms the adequate base from whichGrubeanart develops.That art,like the critical mirror, revealsitself as a seriesof peculiarly impenetrable outsides, surfaces withno content, such as the tub itself. Swiftdescribes Grubean artin exactly thismanner earlyin the Tale:
. . . the Grubaean Sages have alwayschosento convey their Precepts and theirArts,shut up withinthe Vehiclesof Types and Fables, which beenperhaps having more careful and curious in adorning, than was altogether it has faredwiththeseVehiclesafterthe necessary, usual Fate ofCoachesover-finely painted and gilt;thatthetransitory Gazershave so dazzledtheir Eyes, and fill'd their with Imaginations the outward Lustre,as neither to regardor consider, the Personor the PartsoftheOwner within.(Introduction, p. 40) Such surfaceadornment, such artificiality, is exactlythe art and learning of Pope's dunces, who, in Aristarchus'words, "Like buoys,that never sink into the flood, / On Learning'ssurfacewe " but lie and nod (IV. 241-2) .5 And such, too, is the art Belinda practicesin The Rape of the Lock. The scene of Belinda's toilet in Canto I of The Rape of the Lock furnishes an elaborateand important use ofthemirror image. There Belinda engages in a complex artifice which parodies the process of true art and producesa very corporealversionof the goldenworldof art as she " Sees by Degrees a purerBlush arise, And keenerLightningsquicken in her Eyes " (I. 148-44). The "heav'nly Image" (I. 125) she sees in the glass imitates and debases the idea seen in the mirror of the mindand reproduced in the mirror of art-a conception that forms the basis of mostNeoplatonic esthetics. The whole situation simply literalizes the metaphorof the mirror of art and reifies the art work. Significantly,the art workin this case is not the mirror itself, nor is it
' Cf. De Rerutm Natura, IV. 97 ff.and IV. 150 ff. ' All quotations fromPope are from the TwickenhamEdition, ed. John Butt (London and New Haven, 1939-1961).

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in themirror, butis rather Belindaherself. a comShe performs pletely tautological, in herself; reflexive act,beginning and ending she is both priestess and goddessof her own cult, worshipper and worshipped, artistand artifact.Such an artifact not only distorts Sidney's oftheartwork, butrecreates Neoplatonic version quiteexactly thekindof artthatPlato bannedfrom hisrepublic. " heav'nly Belindaexplicitly imitates an imitation, the ironically Image" she sees in the mirror. We cannotforget at thispoint thatPlato pejoratively linked artand themirror as bothillusory, bothrepresenters of a falsely-seeming so that Belinda's reality, adornment ofthemirror heryetfurther imageremoves from the ideallyconceived real. Let me cite the concluding remarks of thissection ofPlato's argument:
We mayconclude, thatall poetry, then, from Homeronwards, consists in representing a semblance ofits subject, whatever it maybe, includingany kindof humanexcellence, withno graspof the reality. ... Stripwhatthe poet has to say of its poeticalcoloring, and I think you musthave seenwhatit comesto in plainprose. It is likea face whichwas neverreallyhandsome, whenit has lost the fresh bloom of youth.6 Plato's judgmentis far too harsh to be applied literallyto the fragileBelinda, but it does forceanotherperspectiveon Pope's " and ambiguous use of comparatives in " keener Lightnings " purerBlush." Taken in its widestimplication, thispassage parodiesthe whole late Renaissance notion of the poet and his relationto the corporeal and the ideal worlds. Belinda is explicitlya creatorgod whose fiat " calls forthall the Wondersof her Face " (42), and she engagesin the same kind of world-building that Renaissance saw poets as the highest reachof theircraft.7 This lies behindher " the Cosmetic"-rather than cosmic-" Pow'rs " (124) invoking and her selectingfrom"The various Off'rings of the World" (130) . It accountstoo forthe presencehereof the unitedtortoise and elephant,miniaturized into combs: althoughthey are only superficial artifacts here, surelythey bringwith them echoes of theirfamousappearance in Locke's discussionof false notionsof substanceas an illusoryexplanationof the structure of the uni6



The Republic of Plato, trans. F. M. Cornford (New York, 1963), X. 600, p. 331. for example, Sidney's Defence of Poesie or Tasso's Reflections upon Heroic


Languageand Body in Augustan Poetic

unpatterned world,a highlyornamented, creates a Whiggish sheis center and exemplar-which is precisely, plenitude ofwhich herrolein thewholeof The Rape oftheLock.9 in small, of artistand artifact that we saw in The same confusion thecoreofPope'spassage: Belindapaints, provides MacFlecknoe The mirror a surface onlyreturns and whatshepaintsis herself. is not the intellectual what is affected vision,but appearance: surface, of Belinda'sface. Pope's linesmake onlythe corporeal aspectof thisweb of ideas: the reflexive prominent also another ofMacFlecknoe, in thelanguage nature ofbad art. It is always, It beginsand endsin itself.We cannotemphasize tautological. becauseit is so antithetical to whatwe have thispointtoo much, as a all beentaught to recognize virtue By thesestandin poetry. failswhenit does not go outside ardsofjudgment, itself, poetry whenit is the subjectiveexpression whenit is self-contained, world-likeBelinda's,even whenthat worldis of a subjective and self-supporting-like consistent Belinda's. Pope internally insists on thispointat theendofThe Rape oftheLock elegantly whenthe Muse, with" quick Poetic Eyes," sees Belinda'slock into a star. Belinda,who has been the sun in metamorphosed is moved by properpoetry, her own miscreated by universe, to circumference, center from false divinity Pope'sownMuse,from The poem openswith" thoseEyes to truepoeticimmortality. thatmusteclipsethe Day" (I. 14) and Belinda'svisionof the
II. xxiii. 2. 8'Essay on Human Understanding, 'Ralph Cohen, in "The AugustanMode in English Poetry,"Eighteenth-Century " (12). I (1967), 3-32,arguesthat theselines present" an invertedprospect Studies, " is not inverted as it does in at all, culminating It seemsto me that the " prospect Rather,the seriousflawwould appear to be the prospect a fullyrealizedmicrocosm. a world locatable in Newtonianspace and time,leading (though itself," implying " (31): these are the beyond man's comprehension not necessarily)to an infinity withhorror and whichmade that Pope apparently regards veryaspectsof the prospect artificiality. of art intomaterial, time-bound it a naturalvehicleforBelinda'sperversion in Dryden's and Thus I would have to argue that in Pope's view-and implicitly but one of Swift's-the prospectis not one of the major modes of Augustanpoetry, the threats to it.

Puffs, Powders,Patches, Bibles Billet-doux" (137-38). Belinda

of a false unionforms a stepin theformation verse.8 Here their of worldof false art that extendsfromthe generaldisorder Treasures" (129) and "The various Off'rings "Unnumbered of the World" (130) to the fullyrealizedbut still disordered Rows,/ plenitude of " Here Files of Pins extendtheirshining

Thomas E. Maresca


" heav'nlyImage in the Glass " (I. 1925);it closes withthe setting of " those fair Suns " (V. 147) and the inscription of Belinda's name " midstthe Stars" (V. 150) by the Muse. So then: style is not sufficient. Consistencyis not sufficient. An informing visionis not sufficient. Mere wordsare not sufficient, and most of all body is. not sufficient. By extrapolation, this Augustan poetic demands a poetry that weds word and body, thoughtand thing,in small as the Incarnationdid in large. It demandstoo that poetrybe in that same way historically verifiat least able, to the extentthat its consistency and integrity be measurednot by its own rulesor the subjectiverulesofits creator, but by some valid externalyardstick.It demands,that is, that poetryspill over into life: " pure art," " art forart's sake," even "doing your own thing" or any of a dozen recentcliches-these are its enemy. It presupposes a verifiableand usable cosmic structure against which a poet can measure his work,in which he can locate it, and to whichhe can appeal to prove his poem's truth and permanence-just as, to give a briefexample which sums up much of this,Tom Jonescan appeal to the substantial and the ideal Sophia to provehis truthand constancy: He replied, meuponmyword; 'Don't believe I have a better security, a pledge formyconstancy, which it is impossible to see and doubt.''What is that?' said Sophia,a littlesurprised.-' I willshowyou,my charming angel,'criedJones, seizingher hand and carrying her to the glass. 'There, beholdit therein that lovelyfigure, in that face, that shape,thoseeyes,that mindwhichshinesthrough theseeyes. Can theman whoshallbe in possession of thesebe inconstant? Impossible! My Sophia;theywouldfixa Dorimant, a Lord Rochester. You couldnot doubtit, if you could see yourself withany eyesbut
your own.' (Tomw Jones,Book XVII, ch. 12)10

The quotation fromTom' Jonesmakes explicitanotheraspect of this poetic: the convention of what we must call the " translucent" body, through whichthe ideal formreveals itself. Swift in a birthday uses it explicitly poem to Stella whenhe notes that "Although [her] Size and Years are doubled," her formis not, "Made up so largelyin [her]Mind... . ." Hi Dryden too employs the concept in the almost disembodiedheroes of Absalom and and particularly Achitophel, in " GodlikeDavid " (14), " Israel's

ed. Harold Williams (Oxford, 1958), II, 721-22.

"On Stella's Birthday. Written A.D. 1717-/19/,The Poems of JonathanSwift,

The text quoted is that of Edmund Gosse (New York, 1898), VI, p. 392.


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" (7), at whoseword" His Monarch, after Heaven's ownheart Traintheir Makerin their Masterhear>"(988). The corollary to this in the satirictradition we have been examining is exactly in that" opaque" bodywhich has recurred " Tun ofMan,"Achitophel's " pigmy after work work-Shadwell's to decay, thegrotesque distortion body"i fretted oftheLaputans, thehideous oftheStruldbrugs, degeneration thestubborn opacity " ofthewoman theGrubean Nut, which flayed, unless youchoose with Judgment, maycostyoua Tooth,and pay youwith nothing " a but Worm (Tale, Sect.I, p. 40). It is thesameopaque body " heav'nly which Belindaadorns and whose Image" sheworships, thesametotally corporeal, reified material, bodythatmarks the duncesas, governed by purely mechanical laws of motion, they follow Dulness " by sureAttraction led,/And strong impulsive gravity ofHead " (Dunciad IV. 75-6). These are humanbodies conceived ultimately without humanity, bodymanifesting itself as and equallyappalling as object. The opposite thing, error is the thatis as sound, bodyas mere word, breath, rhetoric: meaningless Aeolists theirraisond'etre. Shadwellis almost Swift's belching bothoftheseextremes, uniqueinthathe combines simultaneously " big withHymn." His onlycompetitor is Dulnessherself, who and whosecareerculminates is bothleaden and windy, in the of all wordsto theirultimate reduction unintelligible parodyin vocalbreath ofherapocalyptical theunarticulated yawn. sharethe samefateas humanbodies: they Wordsthemselves ortheyarereduced mere become to onlysounds, things, atomistic no meaning outsideofthe fortuitous fragments having combinaillustrates tionstheyfallinto. Swift boththeseextremes in Book III of Gulliver's Travels,amongthe variousprojectors of the of Lagado. Pope showsan evengreater Academy disintegration intomaterial oflanguage ofAristarchus' partsinthecourse speech in The Dunciad: on Words ourwhole is still 'Tis true, debate, ofMe or Te,ofaut orat, Disputes or sink To sound in cano,0 orA, Or giveup Cicero to C orK. (IV. 219-292) we mustlook past Swiftand Pope to For further illustration, conceived as governed to see a world Sterne by wordswhichare and obeymechanical material laws,and humanbeingswho can ThomasE. Maresca 385
a "mountain belly" and a "tympany of sense," swollen and

onlyexistthrough the faulty media ofthosewords,such as Walter Shandy or Tristram himself. The basic language of Tristram is atomism:the wordconceivedofas a solid,impenetrable Sharndy material object, moving through infinitespace and forming momentary constellations of meaningas it collideswith,slidesoff, circlesaroundor linkswithotherdissimilar particles-even as the characters of Tristram Shandy behave, thosebewildered folkwho can onlyexplicatethemselves through some moreor less material versionof art, Toby throughhis miniaturebattlefields, Walter withauxiliaryverbs,Tristramwiththe madly intransigent words of his own biography. In Sterne's world,words are bodies and move bodies, and bodies frequently are words,as in the case of Dr. Slop's famoussquirt,or as in answerto the question" Where was Uncle Toby wounded?" In such a world, bodies behave grammatically-as does Trim's when he reads the sermon-and words mechanically and atomistically--as do "bridge " and " nose " and " whiskers." It is a mistake to thinkthat Sterne's worldis Locke's, withonlya greater emphasisplaced on the associationof ideas; Locke's versionof the associationof ideas is only anotherone of Walter Shandy's (inaccuratelyrecounted) consistentlyinadequate attemptsto explain the world he lives in. The Shandy world is the world of dawningWestern science, a world where the atomic hypothesishas triumphedover Aristoteliangenera and Platonic ideas and its atomisticimplications are beginning to be felt. I do not mean this in any loose or haphazard way: I mean that the kind of ideas about language and body I have precisely been discussing were shaped by the premisesand implications of whattheAugustansknewas the corpuscular theory.Almostfrom the Restorationonwards,some formof atomic theorydominated scientific investigation, banishingolder ideas of the nature of bodies and along with them establishednotionsof the relationships of bodies and souls and spiritsof all sorts."2Once again, Swiftmakes the implicationsand importanceof atomic theory explicitby casting the mad narratorof A Tale of a Tub as a latter-dayLucretius; the epigraphand his numerousquotations De RerumNatura trailwiththemthe unmistakable from aura of Epicurean materialism and atheism.'3Swift'shack even presents
12 For the importance of atomictheoryin this period,see R. IH. Kargon,Atomimnn in England fromHariot to Newton (Oxford, 1966). is a translation 13 The following of the Tale's epigraph and the lines following it in


Language and Body in Augustan Poetic

andeffect nature casefor thematerial corpuscular an impeccable to and Lucretius the effect paraphrasing quoting of language, material areheavy bodies consequently airandwords leaving that minds. He the relevant quotes material onimplicitly impressions translation: which I givein Creech's Lucretian lines, Voice canwound that that thus then, 'Tiscertain, Sound. Is allMaterial; Bodyevery p. 36) (Introduction, for Swiftian evenallowing exaggeraoflanguage, Sucha notion to seecorrelations from remove at a far anyattempt stands tions, oranyofthelessextreme anditsnature, name anobject's between hastaken.Coninthevalidity oflanguage forms thenaivefaith as mirror ofman's idea of inmost it with trast only the language terse " Speak,thatI may nature-summed up in Ben Jonson's ' the 4-and between becomes clear. conceptions the gulf see thee thechance ofthisnotion, thatbad artcan It is thepossibility material that alarms world, call intobeinga chaotic, purely condemnation ultimate and their and Pope and Swift, Dryden theGrubStreet hack, of all their villains-Flecknoe, Shadwell, thatthey andherminions-is Dulness arecreating just Belinda, such a world.Paradoxically, they-thevillains-canonlydo faith of Dryden, of theshared and Pope in Swift thisbecause andto affect toreflect oflanguage theability Conversely, reality. in Sterne, where theLucretian swirl and equally paradoxically, theonlyreality, has become to of atoms language is powerless at all, or evento adequately world thephysical reflect control it helpsto create theverydiversity overwhelms it. it, because is a cockandbullstory, Allthatcanbe achieved simultaneously inclusive andinconsequential. andunbegun, endless behind other considerations areofcourse of There therelations wehavealready Forinstance, andlanguage. the mentioned body thatartistic notion and recreates imitates language Neoplatonic than merely the worldof ideas rather physical reality-the ofartas opposed world to thebrazen of world Sidneyan golden
and to seek an illustrious chaplet formy Lucretius: " I love to pluck freshflowers, head fromfieldswhenceere this the Muses have crownedthe brows of none, first because my teachingis of high mattersand I proceed to unloose the mind from trans. W. H. D. Rouse, Loeb Natura, the close knots of religion.. . ." De Rerum Library (London,1924), I. 928-32. " Timber, in CriticalEssays of the Seventeenth or Discoveries, Century, ed. J. E. Spingarn (Oxford, 1957), T, 41.

Thomas E. Maresca


of theconvention is, ofcourse, nature.A corollary to thattheory as and world they appear the 'opaque"' the 'translucent' world us to see through it to theidealor spiritual in art;theoneenables us to worldbeyond; forcing the otherstopsour visionat itself, and consequently to see it as reality acceptits merely physical mirror of spirit Lucretian and grace. (Swift's brazen, deprived of bothof these.) And thereare an excellent instance furnishes arts, preserved mainlyin the pictorial too the simpler notions, and on theother hand ofbodiesas on onehandideal,Apollonian, in themselves themarks as bearing of the falland as privations, thesemodesand replaced thelossofgrace.But atomism negated without vision ofthebodytotally them with a newand terrifying that excluded all otherforms of existence, grace,a corporeality modesofbeing.It is thisthataccounts in largepartfor all other satiric usesofbodiesas debasing thepeculiar in Augustan devices it is thisthatfinally radically altered the relationship literature; and bodyforAugustan and all subsequent art. oflanguage
State University of New York StonyBrook


Languageand Body in Augu-stan Poetic